Motivation no problem for Thiessen after stellar season

Pittsburgh Penguins re-signs Aldergrove goaltender

Brad Thiessen makes a save for the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins against the Abbotsford Heat during a game at the Abbotsford Entertainment and Sports Centre in March.

Brad Thiessen makes a save for the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins against the Abbotsford Heat during a game at the Abbotsford Entertainment and Sports Centre in March.

Brad Thiessen says motivation after a spectacular 2010/11 hockey season shouldn’t be a problem.

Thiessen lit up the American Hockey League last season, leading all goaltenders in the league in victories (35), which set a new franchise records for the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins. He also posted a Penguins team record with seven shutouts.

Along the way, he posted a 1.94 goals against average and a .922 save percentage in 46 games, and for his efforts, Thiessen won the AHL’s Aldege ‘Baz’ Bastien Award as the AHL’s top goalie and he shared the Harry ‘Hap’ Holmes Memorial Award with fellow Penguins netminder John Curry, as the duo allowed the fewest regular-season goals against.

But while some players might get comfortable and rest on their laurels, all Thiessen had to do was watch the NHL awards banquet last month.

After watching Boston Bruins goaltender Tim Thomas accept winning the league’s Vezina Trophy as top goaltender — to go along with his Stanley Cup and Conn Smythe Trophy as post-season MVP — Thomas spoke about what came next.

“Now the challenge for him was making sure he was better the next season and worked on his game this summer,” Thiessen said about the message he took from the speech.

“So the same goes for me, just doing everything I can to make sure I am in the best position to be successful next year.”

Thiessen, a 25-year-old from Aldergrove, signed a one-year, two-way contract with the Pittsburgh Penguins.

The contract pays him $525,000 if he plays in Pittsburgh.

The restricted free agent originally signed with the organization in 2009 as a free agent following three stellar seasons at Northeastern University. In his last year at the Boston school, he was a Hobey Baker candidate as the top collegiate player in the United States.

Thiessen was more than happy to re-sign with Pittsburgh.

“They were happy with how my progress has come along since I joined the organization,” Thiessen said.

“I really like being a part of the Pittsburgh organization; they have treated me really well and given me a good opportunity so I am excited to join on for another year.”

To get ready for the season, Thiessen is working out locally with TnT Hockey Performance Training, which is run out of Revolution Martial Arts and Fitness, by Mike Thompson and Tyler Jackson.

The Penguins have Marc-Andre Fleury established as the starter and signed through the 2014-15 season. Back-up goaltender Brent Johson is entering the final season of his contract.

“Your mindset always has to be that you want to push the guys in front of you and (those) are the guys in front of me right now,” Thiessen said.

“So I have to do everything in my power to show the guys in Pittsburgh that I deserve a chance at some point.

“If I am back in Wilkes-Barre, then I am back in Wilkes-Barre, but I want to try and do everything that I can to show them that I belong in the NHL.”

Wilkes-Barre/Scranton was upset in the second round of the playoffs, despite Thiessen bettering his regular season numbers. In a dozen post-season games, where he went 6-6, Thiessen’s GAA and save percentage dropped to 1.67 and .940, respectively.